Whanganui & Partners is on the hunt for premises that local food businesses could use as a shared commercial kitchen.
Rhonda Morris, Whanganui & Partners' strategic lead – manufacturing, logistics and commercial, said demand for a commercial kitchen was growing as food businesses expanded.
"I know of a number of our food businesses that want to expand, have proven demand for their product, but aren't in a position to invest in a purpose-built factory," Morris said.
"They need to scale up, but the facilities just aren't available."
Morris says a solution would be to establish a commercial kitchen in Whanganui.
"It would be an industrial space that food businesses can lease for time slots that work for them. This would support mass production, development of new products and efficient packaging."
Milk It, Baby!, owned by Victoria's T42 cafe operator Victoria Handley, makes and sells lactation cookies to support nursing mothers. The products have been so popular that the business is now fielding international orders and demand is outstripping supply.
"I physically can't make the amount of cookies that are being ordered," Handley said.
"Which means I have to put orders on hold. It's a missed opportunity for me."
While Handley makes use of the commercial kitchen at Victoria's T42, she needs a larger for-purpose space to mass produce and package her products.
With nowhere available in Whanganui, the nearest facility was at Massey University, but Morris said it wasn't viable for Whanganui businesses.
"The facility at Massey is almost completely booked out and the travel time eats into productivity. Our small business owners need something more accessible and convenient."
The first step to establishing a facility in Whanganui was to identify a suitable site. Whanganui & Partners had searched through available real estate, but had not found suitable premises.
"I know the perfect site is out there, it's just a matter of a building owner seeing this as an opportunity to add productivity and profit to their pre-existing premise," Morris said.
"Once we have an appropriate site, Whanganui & Partners would be happy to facilitate the compliance process and to assist seeking investment or funding opportunities.
"We know that the demand is here, so it could both serve the needs of our business community and be a profitable investment. I'd love to hear from anyone who's interested in supporting this project, either as a building owner or an investor."